UK Calling Charge Changes
UK Calling is the information campaign being led by Ofcom, the communications regulator, to help explain the changes that are happening to make telephone charges clearer. Ofcom is working together with major phone companies.
At present, the information you see or provide about the cost of calling a service number often looks something like this:
“Calls will cost 10 p per minute from a BT landline. Other landlines may vary and calls from mobiles may be considerably more.”
From the consumer’s perspective this makes it difficult to know what the call will cost, unless you happen to be calling from a BT landline.
From summer 2015, the cost to the consumer of calling a service number (starting 084, 087, 09 or 118) will be split into two parts:
1) An access charge. This goes to the consumer’s telephone provider. The access charge to calls to service numbers will be made clear on consumer’s bills and contract. The access charge will be a pence per minute (ppm) rate.
2) A service charge. This is the remainder; it includes any revenue going to the service provider (that’s you, the party being called), as well as revenue going to the ‘terminating call provider (the company which provides the number to you).
At the same time, all Freephone numbers beginning 0800, 0808 or 116* are being made free for consumers to call from mobile phones, just as they usually are from landlines.
Let’s take an example
Consumer X’s phone company charges him 6 ppm for calls to service numbers – that’s their access charge. And let’s say that the service charge for a particular number Consumer X wishes to call is 10 ppm. In this case Consumer X would see the following information:
“Calls will cost 10 ppm, plus your phone provider’s access charge”.
In this particular example, the call would cost 10 ppm (the service charge), plus 6 ppm (the access charge). So the call would cost Consumer X 16 ppm.
These rules will apply to all consumer calls to 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers across the UK, delivering clearer rates for everyone.
Calls to other numbers – those beginning 00, 01, 02, 03, 05 or 07 – are not affected.
Yes. These changes do not include the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man who have their own structure for these type of calls.
All Freephone numbers (which begin 0800, 0808 or 116*) are being made free for consumers to call from mobile phones, just as they usually are from landlines.
0500 is a legacy Freephone number range. 0500 numbers are not part of these changes and calls from mobiles to these numbers will still be charged for. Ofcom has decided that the 0500 number range will be withdrawn from use in 2017.
Who will meet the cost of Freephone calls from mobiles?
The recipient of the call will be responsible for paying for the call, just as they are for calls from landlines and mobiles at present. The origination charge for the call will be subject to regulation that requires it to be fair and reasonable. Ofcom has set out guidance as to how this should be interpreted.
There may be an increased cost of operating an 0800, 0808 or 116* number, but the size of the increase will depend on the balance of fixed and mobile originated calls you receive. You should discuss this with your call provider.
The new arrangements do not require any telephone numbers to change. None of the organisations offering services on service numbers will be required to change their number. Of course, businesses and public organisations may decide that this is an appropriate time to move to a new number type such as 03.
If you invite your customers to call you on a number starting 080 or 116, this will be free to call for consumers from mobile phones.
For the other affected number ranges, the ‘access charge’ element of the call will be determined by the caller’s telephone provider. Because the access charge will apply across the different non-geographic ranges, there may be a small change in the overall cost of some calls.
You will be advised of the service charge which will apply to your contact number by your call provider ahead of the implementation of the changes.
I currently receive a share of the revenue generated by calls to my number. Will I have to disclose how much I receive from each call?
You will not be obliged to disclose how much you receive from a call. However, you will have to disclose the service charge for each call. The service charge is the sum of all revenue from the call which is not retained by the caller’s telephone company. The set service charge will be the same from all phones, and the level will usually be set for a given block of numbers allocated by Ofcom (typically these are in blocks of 10,000 numbers, but occasionally in 1,000 blocks). Your number provider will be informing you what the service charge will be for your service numbers.
Is Ofcom going to impose caps on the price of calls to certain numbers?
Calls to numbers starting 080 and 116* will be free to call for consumers. There will be caps on the maximum amount of the service charge for the other affected non-geographic numbers, with the exception of 118 directory-enquiry numbers, with caps varying according to the number range.
084 numbers will be capped at 7 ppm or 7 pence fixed fee (including vat), 087 numbers will be capped at 13 ppm or 13 pence fixed fee (including vat).
09 numbers will be capped at £3.60 per minute or £6.00 per call (including vat).
All the changes will be implemented in summer 2015. Ofcom are running a national consumer campaign, UK Calling, from January 2015 to make telephone users across the UK aware of the changes in plenty of time.
You may want to discuss how this might affect your organisation and how you use service numbers with your number provider. It’s advisable to make your Customer Service and Marketing teams aware of the impending changes so they can plan for them too.
The new service charges for your service numbers will be formally communicated to you thereby providing notice to update marketing communications material to include the service charge. This is important because, for the first time, organisations will have to make clear the cost of calls to service numbers in print and on on-line material which they produce / publish. This information should take the form:
“Calls cost ‘x’ p per minute (or just ’x’ pence for fixed cost numbers) plus your phone company’s access charge”
Companies offering Freephone service numbers should consider the potential additional costs they will incur through levies imposed on Freephone calls originating from mobiles. These additional costs will be explained once they are finalized.
My business currently uses numbers affected by the access and service charges. We currently do not have to publish pricing information in adverts. Will that change?
Yes, in future you will need to include information about the cost of the service charge for calling these numbers in any print or on-line material.
Most businesses make outbound calls to 08, 09 or 118 numbers. The new charging system (the access and service charges) applies to calls made from residential lines and consumer mobile phones. However, Ofcom anticipates that providers may extend the same pricing arrangements to business customers. You should speak to the phone company which provides services to your business about this.